Photo | Courtesy of UC Follies
The UC Follies’ fall musical—Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening, based on the play by Frank Wedekind—opens with young Wendla Bergmann, played with perfect naivety by Amanda Gosio, imploring her mother to tell her where babies come from. This opening ballad, “Mama Who Bore Me,” punctuated by its rock-and-roll reprise, sets up the rest of the show. The 2007 musical, based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name, explores budding teenage sexualities and self-growth amidst a stifling community.
Directed by William Dao, the production and technical aspects of the show were absolutely beautiful. The set was beautifully designed with a church chapel and pews in mind and was lit with the utmost care and attention to the themes and the overall aesthetics of the show. In one particularly memorable scene, two characters Moritz (Brandon Vollick) and Ilse (Angie Salomon) stood on either side of the stage singing their respective parts of the song “I Don’t Do Sadness/ Blue Wind.” As they sang, their part of the stage lit up, blue for Ilse and red for Moritz, perfectly corresponding and punctuating the scene.
The choreography was also of note. Because of the nature of the show, and some of the more vulgar aspects of it, it is easy to create movement that plays more into the sexual side without care for the innocence and naivety that most of the characters embody. However, the choreography and movement never strayed past the line of uncomfortable—the movements were sensual, but not sexual.
One thing that was somewhat grating about the production, however, were some of the performances. Every actor in the play is undoubtedly talented, though many were miscast. The show was beautiful, every performance was great, but some were a little off-the-mark. I could imagine Cole Currie as Moritz, rather than Melchior. Brandon Vollick as Hanschen, perhaps, but maybe not quite as Moritz.
Overall, UC Follies’ production of Spring Awakening was enchanting. The tech and production value brought 1890s Germany to life, and gave the (somewhat miscast) actors a beautiful space to play in.